Dr. Leo Rebello
By celebrating the first World Yoga Day, on 21 June 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the UN platform deftly to promote Yoga worldwide. As a Holistic Healer, since 1975, I can say, Yoga is the best gift India has given to the sick world.
"Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with you, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change" the PM had said in his maiden speech at the UN, in New York, on 27 Sept 2014.
Therefore, Yoga is a Catholic (universal) skill and Pope should support it, especially since Jesus practiced it. Buddhists and Jains too practice Yoga.
I became a trained yoga teacher in 1975 and full-fledged nature cure practitioner in 1978. I taught Yoga first to Christians and Muslims. There was no opposition. Because, I brought out the common values and practices and essential unity in all religions. I told Christians, that you can see Jesus better in Meditation. I told them that the Kundalini awakening is nothing but the light of Holy Spirit at the Sahasrara Chakra.
I praised Muslims for not eating Pig meat. I proved to them they enjoy robust health because of Namaz (Asanas), including Shouch (external cleanliness and internal purity), performed five times a day. I told one or two doubting Mullas, that Namaste is Adab. One Muslim brother published what I said into a cyclostyled booklet titled Namaz Yoga, sometime in 1975.
You have to handle the ignorant with kid gloves. If you say, like some self-appointed Swamis utter, "Those not practising Yoga should go to Pakistan or be drowned in the Arabian Sea", then hardening of attitude takes place. Then you do not educate or help them to grow. As the old saying goes, a few rotten mangoes spoil all the mangoes in the box. So, do not argue with the ignoramuses; instead educate them is my policy.
Yoga can be done by poor and rich alike, anywhere in the world, in the parks, in the gardens, in the forests, by the seashore, by the river banks, in the mountains, in the caves or in your bedroom. Poor will improve their physical and mental health (as spiritually they are near to God realisation). Rich people lower on the spiritual ladder, will grow spiritually by learning Yamas and Niyamas, which will teach them how to discard selfishness, greed, hoarding, not to steal, not to control world's riches by deceit, demolishing boundaries, because there are no Terrorists in the world except the two decadent countries, US and Israel.
I wrote in a foreword to a book 'Total Revolution', published in 1983: "Because, 13% eat up the total wealth, 87% have to beg! Because, 13% occupy 96% of land, 87% have to struggle for survival! Stop this injustice, turn to trusteeship management". Accordingly, the world's vast resources held by a miniscule, spiritually sick people, will be made available to the deprived world's populace. This will lead to holistic development of the world and consequently, lasting peace.
There are various brands of yoga. Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kama Yoga, Dance Yoga, Nada Yoga, Office Yoga, Nude Yoga, Hot Yoga, etc. What we have introduced now to the world on 21st June is Asthanga Yoga (as propounded by Sage Patanjali) and that too only the physical training (namely, the Asanas), which per se is not bad, because it is much better than going to gymnasiums and building muscles by taking steroids. Is is so unhealthy.
Yoga came to limelight with the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. It was at this Congress that Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of saint Ramakrishna, made a lasting impression on the American public. He addressed the gathering as, 'Brothers and Sisters of America'. Through these words, Vivekananda captured millions of hearts in the United States and attracted many students to Yoga and Vedanta. Over 2000 years ago, Jesus had likewise propounded brotherhood, but the Church made Jesus a brand ambassador of the Vatican and his liberating teachings were forgotten. Jesus had said, 'We are The Sons of God in Heaven'. The manipulators dropped the's' and made Jesus the ONLY Son of God, and all other Gods as false Gods.
The word Yoga comes from Yuj (to join). Join the individual soul (Jivatma) to the universal soul (Paramatma). As such, Yoga is a spiritual path to liberation, freedom from bondage or slavery of religions. Yoga is, therefore, certainly NOT a Hindu Religion. There are NO rituals in Pure Yoga. So, Namaste is not bowing to anyone but the God or Divinity within each one of us. Allah, Brahma or God is not in Churches, Mosques or Temples, but within you. The day he leaves, your body is dead. Surya (or Sun) is the Divine Light of God. As such, in Surya Namaskar, we do not bend or bow to anyone, but offer Namaz to Light coming from God; like the birds sing praise to God at Dawn. Suryanamaskar is a short cut in this modern world to exercise all your 700 muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs and revive yourself to take on the spirit-crushing stresses. Hence, there is no need to drop Suryanamaskar from the School curriculum.
Swami Vivekanand advised: One does not necessarily need to practice all types of Yogas to attain perfection. Any one Yoga will do, yes, including Kama Yoga, because in that Shiva and Shakti - Male and Female unite. Sri Aurobindo regarded yoga as a methodical effort toward self-perfection through developing our latent potential at the physical, vital, mental, intellectual, and spiritual levels. And The Bhagavad Gita states, “Yoga is skill in action.” It is the way of life. It is a technique of integral living".
I used Yoga in the Samaritans Bombay, from 1977-80, to treat those who were prone to suicide and other psychologically ill patients. I have used Yoga to treat AIDS, Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes, Drug Addicts, High Blood Pressure, Obesity etc. Yoga also offers solution to Alzheimer's, Autistic Spectrum Disorders and several other diseases multiplied by the medicine mafia.
Yoga has a very great and important place in Peace process and Universal Education. Teach Yoga to businessmen, diplomats, doctors, educators, judges, jail birds and jail wardens, nurses, planners, policemen, politicians and statesmen, and see the tremendous change it will bring in the world. Yoga is a lifelong, free education and we need not downgrade it to please anyone. Like AYUSH need not pander to the pseudo standards of pseudo science called Allopathy.
Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga as codified by Sage Patanjali are briefly described below for revision.
* YAMA (Moral Code): * Ahimsa - Non-violence. * Satya - Truthfulness. * Asteya - Non stealing. * Brahmacharya - Continence or Celibacy. * Aparigrah - Non-possessiveness.
* NIYAMAS (Personal Disciplines). * Shoucha - Cleanliness / Purity. * Santosh - Contentment. * Tapa - Endurance. * Swadhyaya - Self Study. * Eshwar Pranidhan – Dedication to God.
* ASANA: A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium. There are 86 asanas. It is not necessary to perform all Asanas daily. But even if 12 Asanas as given in Suryanamaskar are practised, with Shavasana, one can handle the stress of the hectic world.
* PRANAYAM: Breath control.
* PRATYAHARA (Withdrawal of Senses): To increase the power of mind.
* DHARANA: Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
* DHYANA (Meditation): Withdrawing mind and focusing it on one point.
* SAMADHI (Salvation): State of Super Bliss, merging individual consciousness into universal consciousness in Sahasrar Chakra. Realizing the Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God.
Humanity has taken a giant step forward to evolution from an ordinary man to super human being through eight-fold Yoga science, on 21 June 2015. We thank UN for declaring this day as World Yoga Day. Let all people of the World be aware of the five elements within them and grow integrally through perpetual practice of yoga; and various boundaries and differences will disappear, like with the coming of the Sun, fog and smog disappear. Yogohi Param Aushadham (Yoga is the Best Medicine). Practice Yoga Regularly.
(The author is a trained yoga teacher and practitioner)